Ahmad Shamloo

(1925-2000 / Iran / Tehran)

Biography of Ahmad Shamloo

Ahmad Shamloo (Persian: احمد شاملو‎, Ahmade Šāmlū Persian pronunciation: [æhˈmæd(-e) ʃˈɒːmluː], also known under his pen name A. Bamdad (Persian: ا. بامداد‎)) (December 12, 1925 – July 24, 2000) was a Persian poet, writer, and journalist. Shamlou was arguably the most influential poet of modern Iran. His initial poetry was influenced by and in the tradition of Nima Youshij. Shamlou's poetry is complex, yet his imagery, which contributes significantly to the intensity of his poems, is simple. As the base, he uses the traditional imagery familiar to his Iranian audience through the works of Persian masters like Hafiz and Omar Khayyám. For infrastructure and impact, he uses a kind of everyday imagery in which personified oxymoronic elements are spiked with an unreal combination of the abstract and the concrete thus far unprecedented in Persian poetry, which distressed some of the admirers of more traditional poetry.
Shamlou has translated extensively from French to Persian and his own works are also translated into a number of languages. He has also written a number of plays, edited the works of major classical Persian poets, especially Hafiz. His thirteen-volume Ketab-e Koucheh (The Book of Alley) is a major contribution in understanding the Iranian folklore beliefs and language. He also wrote fiction and Screenplays, contributing to children’s literature, and journalism.
Ahmad Shamlou was born to Haydar Shamlou and Kowkab Araqi on December 12, 1925 in Tehran to an army family. Ahmad was the second child and the only son in a family of six children. In the manner of many children who grow up in families with military parents, he received his early education in various towns, including Khash and Zahedan in the southeast of Iran, and Mashhad in the northeast, and Rasht in the north. Shamlou's childhood and adolescent were neither privileged nor easy and home was not an environment that could foster his sensitivities and he often found solace in solitude. Moving with his family from one town to the next proved a hurdle to shamlou's education.
By 1941, his high school education still incomplete, he left Birjand for Tehran. He intended to attend the German-established Tehran Technical School, one of the best secondary schools of that period and learn the German language. He was admitted to this school on the condition that he be demoted two years. Soon in 1942, he and the rest of the family once again left Tehran to move for Gorgan. In 1945, he made a final attempt at completing his high school degree in Urumieh, but he failed. At age 29, following the fall of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, Shamlu was arrested for being a member of the communist Tudeh Party of Iran and imprisoned for more than one year.
Shamlou's debut work, Forgotten Songs (Persian: آهنگ‌های فراموش شده‎), was a collection of classical and modern poetry which was published in 1947 with an introduction of Ebrahim Dilmaghanian. In 1948, he started to write in a literary monthly called Sokhan-no. Two years later his first short story The Woman Behind the Brass Door (Persian: زن پشت در مفرغی‎) was published. His second collection of poems Manifesto (Persian: قطعنامه‎), was published in 1951. He showed inclinations toward Socialist ideology. He got a job in the Hungarian embassy as their cultural advisor.
His third collection of poems, Metals and Sense (1952), was banned and destroyed by the police. His translations of Gold In Dirt, by Sigmund Motritz, and the voluminous novel The Heartless Man's Sons by Mór Jókai, together with all data gathered for his work on the colloquial culture of urban Iranian life (to be known as The Book Of Alley) were also confiscated and destroyed. In 1954 he was jailed for 14 months. in 1955 he translated and published three novels by European writers. He became the editor-in-chief of Bamshad literary magazine in 1956.
Shamlou was married three times. In 1947, he married Ashraf Isslamiya (d. 1978) and together they had three sons and a daughter: Siavash Shamlou, (1948–2009), Sirous Shamlou, Saman Shamlou, Saghi Shamlou. They divorced in 1957 after several years of conflict and long separation. His second marriage to Tusi Hayeri Mazandarani (d. 1992) who was fourteen years older than Shamlou, ended in divorce in 1963 after four years of marriage.
He met Aida Sarkisian in the spring of 1962 and they were married two years later in 1964. Aida came from an Armenian-Iranian family who lived in the same neighborhood as Shamlou. Her Christian family objected to the marriage on the basis of the Islamic background of Shamlou's family. Moreover, Shamlou was older, and had been divorced twice. She became an instrumental figure in Shamlou's life and they remained together until his death in 2000. Her name appears in many of his later poems. She currently lives in Karaj.
Suffering from several illness at the same time, Shamlou's physical condition deteriorated in 1996. He underwent several operations and in 1997 his right foot was amputated due to severe diabetic problems. He died on Sunday July 23, 2000 at 9 p.m. at his home in Dehkadeh in Karaj due to complications from his diabetes. On July 27, thousands took part in Ahmad Shamlou's funeral. He was buried in Emamzadeh Taher, Karaj.

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In This Dead-end

They smell your mouth
To find out if you have told someone:
I love you!
They smell your heart!
Such a strange time it is, my dear;
And they punish Love
At thoroughfares
By flogging.
We must hide our Love in dark closets.

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